Don Bradman died at the age of 92, failing by 7. 94 in years what would have been his Test batting average. It has been one of the greatest regrets of my life that I never saw him play. The film clips that I have seen tell nothing of how he constructed an innings. Was it all systems go from the start? Or did he play himself in?

All those who watched him or played with and against him have been so awed by him that they cannot recall the details. Ironically, they are able to remember his failures in depth, there being few of them. His success was taken for granted.

I can pay no greater tribute to him than that he remained my cricketing hero long after I had outgrown hero-worship. When I was about five years old, I had started to collect clippings and photographs of Bradman and though I had given up doing so as I got older, there has always been for me, Bradman on one side and all the other players on the other side.

Bradman was in a category all his own. I am sure that the entire cricketing world will rise up to mourn the death of this greatest batsman ever. I can only add my tribute. When a person reaches the ripe old age of 92, one is not shocked when he passes on. And, therefore, not by shock but with immense sadness is how I reacted when I read of his death.

There was a time once when conquering Mount Everest seemed an unattainable goal. Sir Edmund Hillary and Tensing reached its peak. Man had looked at the moon and yearned to reach it. In the English language, to "cry for the moon" meant wanting the impossible. Yet the moon has been reached. Will there be another Bradman? Who can say? But not in the foreseeable future.

Arnold Toynbee, the historian has his "rhythm of history" theory which describes the fall and rise of civilizations as rout-rally-rout-rally. Something similar is happening in the one-day series in New Zealand. And as this column is being written, the series is tied two-all and when it appears in print, the final match will have started.

Normally, this would suggest that the two teams are so evenly matched that not even a tissue separates them. This is not the case for I find Pakistan's performance quite baffling. It alternates from soaring to the skies and plumbing to the depths. Not even the combined talents of Sherlock Holmes and Poirot can unravel the mystery why a team should be so consistently erratic. It is, as if, its unpredictability is predictable.

I want to write in particular about the Christchurch match which Pakistan lost by a thumping margin of 138 runs which in one-day cricket is a massive defeat. There were mistakes made that seemed elementary. One would have thought that by now Pakistan would have learnt its lesson. Pakistan played only five bowlers and a sixth option was not available despite there being some doubts about Azhar Mahmood's fitness.It was a day match and Pakistan won the toss and put New Zealand in on a perfect batting wicket, so perfect that New Zealand was able to amass 284 for five and Craig McMillan made 104 off 75 balls. Going into bat, Pakistan lost Saeed Anwar in the first over, a horribly loose shot and lo! and behold Azhar Mahmood came in as the pinch hitter.

Why disturb the batting order? And if it had to be, then it should have been Abdur Razzak. Imran Nazir was out first ball, hooking, knowing that a trap had been set for him. But even worse Inzamam-ul- Haq had a groin injury but came in to bat all the same. The match for all intents and purposes had been lost by then. Yet he plodded on at the wicket, far from healing the injury, aggravating it. No matter what spin one would like to put on it, it was a failure of team management. Quite frankly I am at a loss for words and I'll leave it at that.

When teams visit the subcontinent and this includes Sri Lanka, there is much bitching about the wickets but when teams from the subcontinent visit other countries they are expected to accept uncomplainingly the wickets they are required to play on. A home team will prepare wickets to suit its strength and not its opponents strength. Australia and England will get spinning wickets in India and Sri Lanka and not fast, bouncy tracks. There is no bench-mark for Test wickets and what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

There have also been complaints about the umpiring in Sri Lanka and Nasser Hussain seems to be badly done for. But England should know that it was Pakistan that had recommended to the ICC that there should be "neutral" umpires at both ends and countries like England failed to support Pakistan at the ICC. Perhaps, this time round, it will be England who will propose to the ICC that there should be "neutral" umpires at both ends!

In fact, there should be "neutral" umpires for the One-day Internationals as well. We should try and minimise the carping. I was glad to see Hanumant Singh, the match-referee for the Sri Lanka- England series take a tough line against Graeme Hick for showing open dissent against the umpire's decision. The code of conduct applies to all players and not just players from the subcontinent.